In November 2019, Aberdeen Art Gallery reopened following a long 4 year refurbishment which has transformed not only the building but the creativity within the community of the city.
Having never visited the gallery before and only ever seeing it as a building site, I was more than excited for the opening weekend.
The open, light, welcoming space is centred around a sculpture court with dramatic granite pillars and checkered floor. The redevelopment included a new floor, which includes an exhibition room, seminar and workshop space, a cafe and terraces to look out across the city. Even without an awareness of the previous gallery aesthetic, I could clearly see the consideration and postivie changes which were made for the space to become accessible for all.
The Cowdry Hall brings music and performances to the gallery weekly, encompassing another aspect of the creative community of the Aberdeen. The accessiblity of learning has clearly been at the focus of the redeveolpment, with a fantastic learning space for school groups to create and respond to the artwork as well as for workshops to take place. Throughout the gallery; question boards, interactive screens, drawing areas and sketchbooks enhance the engagement of the visitors with the artwork. This results in the gallery becoming more than just a space to walk through but an environment in which to spend time learning, responding, communicating and importantly being creative.
It has been a pleasure to volunteer at two events in the gallery so far. HAAN Design Pop-Up Market, curated by Look-Again, was a high quality showcase of local and national creative designers and makers set up throughout the gallery space. My role involved helping to set up the event, make visitors aware of the event, visit local cafes and shops to hand out flyers and tell them about HAAN. I particularly enjoyed welcoming visitors into the space and engaging in conversations about the Gallery and the event.
Most recently, I was involved in the first Gallery Late Night: Tonic - a creative night with live music, artist-led activities, debates and a silent disco. I assisted artist Laura Reilly with her Skee-Pong-A-Rama workshop in which we taught visitors how to screenprint a poster then encouraged them to get involved in the fun and slightly competititive duo ping-pong game! This gave me the opportunity to learn key skills from an artist on how to deliver a workshop to a range of ages and abilites. The workshop and evening as a whole was a great success in creating, collaborating, creativity and contemplation in response to questions of art and design’s relevance today as a tool for personal and social development.
I am interested in the value of art in education and how we can involve the public and communities with art in an accessible way, so I hope that there will be many more opportunities to volunteer and work at the gallery in order to contribute to the culture and creativity of Aberdeen.